Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A tower or other fortification on the approach to a castle or town, especially one at a gate or drawbridge.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A scansorial barbet of the family Capitonidæ and subfamily Pogonorhynchinæ, or the genus Pogonias in a broad sense. The barbicans are all African, like the barbions.
  • noun In medieval fortification, an outwork of a castle or fortified place.
  • noun A loophole.
  • noun A channel or scupper in a parapet for the discharge of water.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Fort.) A tower or advanced work defending the entrance to a castle or city, as at a gate or bridge. It was often large and strong, having a ditch and drawbridge of its own.
  • noun An opening in the wall of a fortress, through which missiles were discharged upon an enemy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A tower at the entrance to a castle or fortified town
  • noun A fortress at the end of a bridge.
  • noun An opening in the wall of a fortress through which the guns are levelled; a narrow loophole through which arrows and other missiles may be shot.
  • noun A temporary wooden tower built for defensive purposes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a tower that is part of a defensive structure (such as a castle)

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French barbacane, from Medieval Latin barbacana, from Persian barbārkhān : barbār, guard (from Old Iranian *parivāraka-, protective; see wer- in Indo-European roots) + khān, house (from Middle Persian).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French barbacane, of uncertain origin: compare Arabic بربخ (barbakh, "aqueduct, sewer"), and Persian باب‌خانه (bab-khâna, "gatehouse").

Examples

  • Within the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept on the stone benches.

    The Alhambra

  • Within the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept on the stone benches.

    The Alhambra

  • Within the barbican was another group of veteran invalids, one mounting guard at the portal, while the rest, wrapped in their tattered cloaks, slept on the stone benches.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 549 (Supplementary number)

  • The castle moat divided this species of barbican [Footnote: A barbican is a tower or outwork built to defend the entry to a castle or fortification.] from the rest of the fortress, so that, in case of its being taken, it was easy to cut off the communication with the main building, by withdrawing the temporary bridge.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 4

  • On entering the small outer barbican, which is reached by a lane from the market-place, we come to the base of the Norman keep.

    Yorkshire

  • It was then, probably, that the towers were made along the embattled walls, and especially one of those peculiar towers called a barbican, contrived so as to give an outlook on approaching foes.

    Chatterbox, 1906

  • Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower, forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress.

    The Alhambra

  • Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower, forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress.

    The Alhambra

  • Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower; forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 549 (Supplementary number)

  • Ascending the steep and shady avenue, we arrived at the foot of a huge square Moorish tower, forming a kind of barbican, through which passed the main entrance to the fortress.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 8

Comments

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  • Fortified outwork defending the gate of a castle or town.

    Also, capped, the former home of the RSC in London.

    August 24, 2008

  • I always thought this was the container the Barbicide came in at the barber shop. My bad.

    June 10, 2009

  • Heehee.

    June 10, 2009

  • Two concert venues in London are Barbican and Kenwood.

    June 10, 2009

  • "Ahead, a vast grilled barrier like a castle barbican swam out of the gloom...and beyond it, they caught their first glimpse of Blaine the Mono." From The Wastelands by Stephen King.

    January 9, 2011